The Highlighting break-dance... Just me?

Hello all,

This will no-doubt be waayyyy down the list of feature requests - and maybe I am the outlier here, or am missing something obvious.

When I select text using the trackpad/keyboard, I then use the keyboard shortcut to invoke the Highlighting feature, and thereby colour the selected text to the colour that the dropdown selection ‘swatch’ (visible in toolbar) is set to.
Alternatively, text is already highlighted, and I want to either (a.) remove the highlight, or (b.) change the colour from what it is, to the colour that is now set as selected in the dropdown selection ‘swatch’ (visible in toolbar).
If (a.), I select the text and hit the keyboard shortcut twice [once to change to current colour, once again to remove new colour]. If (b.), I fire the keyboard shortcut once.

What currently happens, is that when I have selected the text, the ‘text-selector’ colour that I have set, “overrides” whatever is below the selection, as is to be expected. As in, all one sees is the colour of the ‘selection’ (again, as is to be expected), and no indication of what the highlighted colour is…

So when I fire off the keyboard shortcut to either add, change or remove highlighting to the text below that selection, I have no visual manner of knowing whether I successfully invoked the highlighter function.
AFAIK, the only way to ‘check’ whether the highlight was successfully applied/changed/removed to/from the text, is to select/click elsewhere, and ‘clear’ the text selection, to then be able to ‘see’ the end result.

It frequently happens [so frequently that I am here, instead of writing 8) ] that I think I have mistyped, and that the event was not triggered, so I do it again.
Only it did trigger the first time, and I have now removed the highlight - which was what I wanted - only to then ‘add’ it back by invoking the second (unnecessary) shortcut… Or maybe I mis-typed both occasions, and actually did nothing on either attempts…
Alternatively, when selecting already highlighted text [as per (b.) above], I might end up only changing the colour from what it was to what the swatch is now – instead of removing all highlighting as intended… Or I remove all highlighting when I was rather trying to change the colour from what it was, to what the new swatch colour is…

The point is, there is no way of knowing with the text still selected. At least, that’s how I understand it.

So sometimes I attempt the highlighting, click elsewhere, move the cursor with the cursor keys, see that it was unsuccessful, or didn’t do what I wanted, and then need to re-select the text, and do it again. And I am ashamed to admit that my ham-fisted fingers occasionally repeat the error a second time… or, heaven-forbid, a third, as my increasingly obstinate-self attempts to get it right properly (using the keyboard), despite there being the option of moving up into the toolbar to click on the swatch with the text selected… I know. I need help. :wink:

Is it just me, or do other Scrivener users occasionally perform this highlight keyboard-dance as well?

Now I know I should really improve my typing… But I do find it disproportionately annoying when I am in full-swing, so to speak, to only have the brakes slammed on by my inability to properly use my keyboard to perform a simple function.
And I am hoping there might be others who do the same, who might also welcome some small visual clue to indicate whether there was some/any change in the highlighting state of the text, underneath the selection…

Yes/No/Sit down?

Unfortunately this is a problem with the macOS text system - its highlight colours are all opaque. In Scrivener 3, there will be a way to work around this - I have made it so that users can make the highlight colour transparent in the Preferences, so that you can see the highlight beneath it. I can’t make this the default behaviour though, because of special behaviour in the text system: the “system highlight colour” that I use by default automatically changes to the highlight colour the user has set in his or her System Preferences (Blue, Purple, Green, Graphite etc). If I set a semi-transparent highlight colour by default, this automatic behaviour would not work and it would not respect the user’s System Preferences highlight colour. So, in Scrivener 3, you’ll be able to fix this behaviour, but you’ll need to do it by changing the highlight colour in Scrivener’s Preferences.

All the best,

Appreciate the detailed reply, Keith - always amazed at how much more complicated these things are (as a non-programmer). Great news on the intended fix! Cheers!

I concur with the OP that the current visual feedback is not ideal - I also struggle with that - thanks for bringing it up. I often wonder if I did the right highlight thing before ‘moving back’ to the text.

Given the limitations of the system could there be a solution like in MS Word, where text is immediately un-selected after highlighting? This provides the immediate feedback that would give me the certainty that text is either highlighted or un-highlighted. This could be optional behaviour, as a setting in the preferences.


As KB mentioned above, this issue has already been addressed in the upcoming Scriv 3. You will be able to tell visually whether you’ve done the deed or not.


Ha. Thanks.

Yes, upon re-reading Keith’s reply it makes more sense, and that is good news. I initially got the impression it was a workaround, rather than a feature. And I guess this requires a paid upgrade. That is probably more than worth it, but I was not aware that Scrivener 2 would not get updates anymore.

If you bought Scriv 2 recently (directly from Lit& Lat), you are probably within the date window which would make your upgrade to vers.3 free.